Lipitor abandons patent and low-cost generics

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People without insurance

Men and women will benefit the most from a generic version of Lipitor, which they have paid dearly for at the pharmacy. But they’re unlikely to see their costs cut significantly over the next six months.

Meanwhile, the generic price should only be around 10-20% lower than Lipitor, says Schondelmeyer. And even if Pfizer reduces the cost of Lipitor to the generic level, uninsured customers are unlikely to see a big difference in price. But as of June 1, other generic drug companies can compete and their drugs are expected to significantly reduce the price of generics. Lipitor now typically costs $ 5 to $ 6 per pill when not covered by insurance. “Next fall, the [generic] the price will be down to about $ 2 a pill, and by 2013 it will probably be down to 50 or 25 cents, ”Schondelmeyer said.

Meanwhile, in another attempt to encourage continued loyalty to the Lipitor brand, Pfizer is offering discount cards for people not covered by private insurance or government programs – in some cases as low as $ 4 for a supply of 30 days.

Create a precedent ?

Many successful drugs are should lose patent protection (pdf) over the next 12 months, paving the way for lower cost generics including Plavix (heart attack prevention), Avandia (diabetes), Singular (allergies and asthma) and Lexapro (depression). Could their manufacturers enter into agreements similar to those of Pfizer?

“We have to wonder about the previous one [the Lipitor strategy] sets, ”says Joyce.“ If Pfizer is successful, other manufacturers will follow some or all of these approaches. “

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is reportedly monitoring developments closely. Drug market analysts say FTC officials have been investigating the PBM deals involving Lipitor. The agency declined to comment or say whether it is actively investigating the matter.

But in recent years, the FTC has vigorously pursued other types of tactics to delay generic competition, particularly one known as “paying for the delay” in which a brand name drug maker pays a generic drug maker to pay for the delay. stays out of the market for several months. The FTC estimates that these deals currently protect at least $ 20 billion in brand-name drug sales from competition and cost U.S. consumers $ 3.5 billion annually, of which about $ 1.2 billion is paid by the federal government. .

The AARP Bulletin has contacted Pfizer for comment and has been invited to email the company questions. Pfizer did not respond.

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Patricia Barry is the editor of the AARP Bulletin which writes on Medicare and health policy issues.

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